Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: May 19: Locus Award Finalists, #Audiobooks, Family Reading + Silent Reading

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. The roundup is relatively short this week because I had some travel, and wasn't able to spend much time with Twitter. Topics I did share include: #audiobooks, #BookADay, #PoetLaureate, #SummerReading, bedtime reading, book awards, reading aloud, reading parties, and science fiction.

Book Lists + Awards

DoubleDown2017 Locus Award Finalists in shared by https://t.co/zY89eSKTtP 

Congratulations! Margarita Engle named Young People's via

Best for Family Road Trips, a from

Week: Some of the Funniest Children’s Books of 2017 by Women —

Events + Programs

Read on the Fly program connects kids, books at Alaska airports  

Growing Bookworms

CharlottesWebThe Family Who Reads (Aloud) Together, Cries Together — Cynthia Platt

I’m Nearing the End of w/ My Daughter + It’s Breaking My Heart  

The Case for To Older Kids via

Why the Music of with expression Matters for Kids | https://t.co/ejkIhPa66S

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

PenderwicksThere Is A Difference Between Middle Grade and Young Adult Lit + It Does Matter  

What is the Best Way to Listen to ? suggests some sources

A fine idea: Silent Parties--How Great Does This Sound?  

Sharing Plans for Summer ! by

Parenting

How Parents Can Help Kids Develop A Sense Of Purpose

To Raise Better Kids, Say No | keep them from being spoiled + nurture creative thinking |   https://t.co/deflSxzXNy

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


Enzo and the Fourth of July Races: Garth Stein and R.W. Alley

Book: Enzo and the Fourth of July Races
Author: Garth Stein
Illustrator: R.W. Alley
Pages: 40
Age Range: 6-8

EnzoFourthOfJulyI like the previous books about Enzo very much (see reviews here and here). But Enzo and the Fourth of July Races I LOVE. Enzo is a cute little dog who lives with a girl named Zoe and her race car driver dad, Denny. The books are told from Enzo's perspective. In this installment, Enzo accompanies Zoe and Denny to Pine Cone Speedway for the Fourth of July Races. Denny will be competing as usual. And Zoe will be competing for her first time in the Kids' Kart Challenge. If she can overcome the hit to her confidence that comes from overhearing a boy scoff at the idea of a girl competing, that is. 

There's so much to love about this book. It's about how you need to have confidence in yourself to succeed, and how no one else can give that to you externally. It's about the rewards of working hard, and about how you should pay attention to people who might have useful information (even if they are not in conventionally "important" positions). And it's about how girls can, in fact, accomplish anything they set out to do. 

Of course regular readers know that I am very sensitive to books that are didactic. But Enzo and the Fourth of July Races manages to teach these growth mindset-inspired lessons without the tiniest hint of being message-y. I think Garth Stein pulls this off by keeping the viewpoint of the book squarely in Enzo's determined paws. Enzo isn't capable of thinking in didactic terms, and readers won't be, either. Enzo is just observing what Zoe and Denny do, with a few reflections on how they feel, and trying to figure out how he can support his family. It's brilliant. 

The book also highlights fun aspects of the fact that the narrator is a dog. Enzo has learned a bit about people since his puppy days, but he still has a decidedly dog-centric view of the world. Like this:

"This is what I love about the racetrack: the roar of engines, the smell of fuel and rubber, the dirt on everyone's faces, and the look of intensity in their eyes as they work on their cars to make them the fastest of the weekend.

And I also like that sometimes someone drops a hot dog and doesn't notice."

There's also a great spread in which Zoe and Denny are both qualifying at the same time. Enzo runs back and forth between them until he is tired and panting, observing: "They don't realize how much work it is for me to look after them!" You just have this feeling that dogs really think that way. 

R. W. Alley's illustrations of Enzo and his family are warm and pleasing. The illustrator of recent Paddington books brings the shaggy Enzo to life perfectly. 

One other thing I love about this book is what a great dad Denny is. When Zoe (temporarily) backs out of the Go Kart race he tells her: "A wise man once told me there is no dishonor in losing the race. There is only dishonor in not racing because you are afraid to lose." But he also tells her: " I respect your decision, and I love you whether or not you race." I kind of wanted to hug him right there. 

Enzo and the Fourth of July Races is long and text-dense for a picture book. I would recommend it more for first and second graders than for younger kids. Despite being long, to me (and I am not at all patient these days) it didn't drag on at all. Every page and paragraph was necessary to the plot. Because the vocabulary is relatively straightforward, I think it could work as a read-alone book for first or second graders, or for a classroom read-aloud (perhaps over a couple of days). Certainly my first grader had no hesitation whatsoever in assigning Enzo and the Fourth of July Races to the "write about this book" stack. 

Enzo and the Fourth of July Races is a new favorite in our household. Highly recommended for home or school use!

Publisher: HarperCollins (@HarperChildrens
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Growing Bookworms Newsletter: May 17: Reading in Bed, Reading Together, and Realistic Graphic Novels

JRBPlogo-smallToday, I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on growing joyful learners, mainly bookworms, but also mathematicians and learners of all types. The newsletter is sent out every two to three weeks.

Newsletter Update:  In this issue I have five book reviews (picture book through young adult) and one post with my daughter's latest literacy milestone (staying up too late reading). I also have two posts with links that I shared recently on Twitter

Reading Update: In the last two weeks I finished two middle grade novels, two adult novels, and one adult nonfiction title. I read/listened to: 

  • Jennifer Bell: The Uncommoners. Crown Books for Young Readers. Middle Grade Fantasy. Completed May 5, 2017, on Kindle. Review to come.
  • Shannon Hale (ill. LeUyen Pham): Real Friends. First Second. Middle Grade Graphic Novel. Completed May 16, 2017. Read aloud to me by my daughter, who loves this book madly, and is now reading it on her own for a third time. She loves discussing it with me ("Which parts are your favorite?" "Why do you think X did Y?" etc.). Highly, highly recommended - this is going to become a go-to birthday gift book for us. 
  • William Kent Krueger: Boundary Waters (Cork O'Connor, No. 2). Atria Books. Adult Mystery. Completed May 4, 2017, on MP3. This series is holding up for me so far, and I have downloaded book 3. 
  • Victoria Thompson: Murder in the Bowery. Berkley. Adult Mystery. Completed May 11, 2017, on MP3. Delightful, as always. 
  • Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant: Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy. Knopf. Adult Nonfiction. Completed May 15, 2017, on Kindle. This is a very powerful book. I read it partly because I'm interested in Sandberg's story and partly as an aid to building my own resilience. It delivered on both fronts. 

MrsSmithSpySchoolI'm currently listening to Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane and reading Mrs. Smith's Spy School for Girls by Beth McMullen.  I have a weekend coming up when I should be able to get some good reading done, and I have both physical and Kindle stacks waiting. 

My most positive reading experience lately by far was having my daughter read Real Friends (see above) aloud to me. We were (for the most part) cozy on the couch reading together. I could help her with words she didn't understand (though I accepted her somewhat unconventional pronunciation of various names). We could stop and discuss the behaviors that she didn't understand. (The toughest thing was young Shannon's older sister being made more angry by an apology from her saintly younger sibling.) We noted resemblances to things in the Princess in Black books. We discussed what we would have done in X or Y situation. And we just enjoyed the book. It was wonderful.

You can find my daughter's 2017 reading list here. She especially enjoys realistic graphic novels these days. El Deafo by Cece Bell was also a hit. I would especially love suggestions for realistic graphic novels for which the themes are not too advanced for a first grader (I'm fine with stretching her on vocabulary, but she's not really ready to read about dating, etc.). 

Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors: Drew Daywalt and Adam Rex

Book: The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors
Author: Drew Daywalt
Illustrator: Adam Rex
Pages: 48
Age Range: 4-8

LegendRockPaperScissorsThe Legend of Rock Paper Scissors, written by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Adam Rex, is the dramatic origin saga of the game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. It is set in the mysterious land of a suburban home. Readers first meet Rock, who lives in the Kingdom of Backyard. Rock defeats all challengers by pummeling them. Rock, however, feels let down by the lack of "a worthy foe." A similar situation faces Paper, who dominates his Empire of Mom's Home Office, and Scissors, who dwells in the Kitchen Realm, in the "tiny village of Junk Drawer." As each warrior sets out in search of more equal challengers, the three heroes meet"in the great cavern of Two-Car Garage." Astute readers will be able to predict what happens from here. 

The text of The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors is over-the-top and read-aloud friendly, full of dramatic exclamations as well as more subtle wordplay. Like this:

"They called her Scissors,
and she was the fastest blade in
all the land. She, too, was unchallenged.
On this day, her first opponent was a strange and sticky circle-man.

"Let us
do battle,
you tacky and vaguely
round monstrosity!"

"I will
battle you,
and I will
leave you
beaten and 
confused with 
my adhesive
and tangling 
powers!"

We have classic adventure lingo, like "fastest blade in all the land" as well as "you tacky and vaguely round monstrosity" (describing a roll of cellophane tape). This is a book that simply begs to be read aloud, and will make kids and adults smile. There's also a scene in which Rock tells an apricot that he looks like a "fuzzy little butt", which will have listeners chortling (though things do not end well for the "odd and delicious fruit").

This is a longer text at 48 fairly busy pages, however, and will work better for the K-3 set than for preschoolers, I think. It also might be a bit long for library storytime. But for reading at home, The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors is hard to beat.

Adam Rex's bold illustrations bring the three unconventional main characters, and their opponents, to quirky life. Even the elements of a half-eaten bag of trail mix have individual, frightened expressions when confronted by the bold Paper. My favorite is Scissors, though. Her two green loops look like eyes within eyeglasses, expressive and shiny. 

My seven year old gave this one two thumbs up and a "Yes, you'll have to write about this one, Mommy." And so I have. The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors is pure fun, and a must-read for fans of Daywalt's Crayons books. Read it, and you'll never play Rock, Paper, Scissors in quite the same way. Highly recommended and a must-purchase for libraries. 

Publisher: Balzer + Bray  (@HarperChildrens)
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: May 12: #Audiobooks, #Reading More + #Parenting

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include #KFRR, #PictureBooks, #STEM, #SummerReading, audiobooks, biographies, children's books for adults, Christine Carter, foster care, growing bookworms, parenting, play, reading, reading aloud, Rick Riordan, Scholastic, and women in engineering.

Book Lists

Blackout13 Summer Books for Preschoolers from https://t.co/Sb1ty9sJhi

20 Titles for , from + more https://t.co/41NmhONT2z 

2017 Recommendations from

Ten Biographies Tweens, Teens + Teachers Will Love! by

Funny 3rd Grade Books: The Perfect from https://t.co/F127msEFzt

8 New Middle Grade Novels (w/ 40s-friendly fonts) Adults Will (Also) Love, from https://t.co/VlYl0PIiYn

Growing Bookworms

PippiAudioYes! : Benefits to listening (w/ reading along) as children develop skills by

The Kids & Family Report™, Canadian Edition Offers First-ever Insights  

This Kindergarten Class Threw A "Millionaire Bash" To Celebrate 1 Million Words Each In A Year

A Reminder of the Importance of to Babies from

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

People who read (fiction) books are nicer, study finds |

If you could remove any famous from fame (as now problematic to you), what would it be? asks  

MagnusChaseI enjoyed this post Celebrating by (who like me was a fan of 's books early on) https://t.co/Fvw319S9Op

How to read more books — Tips gathered from research by

Female Authors Aren’t Funny (And Other Lies You May Have Heard) by https://t.co/KpIcVC1EIu 

Parenting 

How to Your Children Helps You to Be a Present Parent | https://t.co/fOZ6n4UKkm 

So true! "It takes a mountain of books to raise a capable, caring, confident child" https://t.co/o8H3M0Hgvh

SweetSpotGood advice here: How to Help Your Teen Deal With Stress 1. Stop doing things that stress YOU out https://t.co/Yv0ypNFQgc

Play

Roundup of some recent Posts About + , with quotes, from

How a daycare provider transformed her school: "I Stopped Stopping Play"

STEM

Seven Ways to Get More Women into and Tech by Alyssa Johnson | guest post  

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


Prudence the Part-Time Cow: Jody Jensen Shaffer and Stephanie Laberis

Book: Prudence the Part-Time Cow
Author: Jody Jensen Shaffer
Illustrator: Stephanie Laberis
Pages: 32
Age Range: 4-8 

PrudenceCowPrudence the Part-Time Cow by Jody Jensen Shaffer and Stephanie Laberis is a celebration of science, invention, individuality and belonging. Prudence is only a part-time cow because she spends a significant portion of her time being a scientist, architect, and engineer. The other cows find Prudence's odd behavior off-putting. When they criticize her, she tries to be more like the other cows. But she simply can't help herself. She wants to read and learn and understand and try things out.

When the other cows let her know, again, that she'll never truly be one of them, Prudence sets her considerable mind to figuring out a way that she can be herself and still belong. She ends up making a series of inventions tailored to the needs of those around her. The ending, in which the other cows happily accept the results of her efforts, struck me as an adult reader as a little bit too easy. But I think that kids will like it. Certainly my seven-year-old inventor, ninja, engineer, architect, pirate daughter had no complaints, and pronounced the book a success. 

Shaffer's text uses strong vocabulary words and lots of quotations. I think this is more suited as a book to read to children then from them to read on their own. Here's a snippet:

"When it was pond-standing time, Prudence stood with the herd.
She was doing great ... but then she calculated
the water temperature and wind speed.

"Sixty-eight degrees and four miles per hour."

The herd was not impressed. "Cows don't calculate,"
said Bessie, counting the salves as she hustled
them from the pond."

I like "pond-standing time" and the use of "hustled." I also got a little smile from the fact that the cow busily counting the calves claimed that cows don't calculate. For what is counting but calculating? I chose not to point this out to my daughter, though. Let her pick it up on her own when she's ready, I say. 

Laberis' illustrations add humor and detail. Prudence is shown with a shock of curly pink hair. The other cows are frequently shown with grumpy expressions, while the calves tend to look more open and questioning. Prudence sometimes stands on two legs, to the other cows' four, a subtle visual representation of her more evolved state. She looks like someone's quirky aunt, a bit embarrassing in public, but lovable. 

You have to appreciate any book that has a female character who loves science and math so much that she simply can't help calculating and inventing. The fact that she's a cow, not a person, makes her community's lack of acceptance of her true nature understandable. Her attempts to balance staying true to herself with fitting in reflect tensions that most science-loving girls will experience one day. This theme, along with the book's vocabulary and visual detail, makes Prudence the Part-Time Cow a better fit for first to third graders than for preschoolers, I think. It would make a very nice classroom read-aloud for, say, second graders. Libraries looking for pro-STEM books, especially pro-STEM books with female characters, will definitely want to give Prudence the Part-Time Cow a look. Recommended!

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (@MacKidsBooks) 
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the author

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Thirteen Reasons Why: Jay Asher: A Review Reissue

Book: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Pages: 256
Age Range: 13 and up

ThirteenReasonsWhy

Nearly 10 years ago I wrote a review from an advance copy of Jay Asher's book, Thirteen Reasons Why. Since then I've followed Jay's journey with the book through his blog and Facebook. [He toured the 50 states to discuss the book with students, for example.] Recently I've heard a fair bit from other parents (who have older children than I do) about the Netflix series based on the book. I thought it might be useful for me to re-post my original review of the book. I have not watched the TV series, though if my daughter was a teenager, I am pretty sure that I would watch it with her.  I have not updated or edited this review, though if I was writing it today as a parent, I would probably have responded a little differently. Anyway, without further ado, here are my 10-year-old thoughts on Thirteen Reasons Why:

Thirteen Reasons Why is an unusual and fascinating book. Author Jay Asher starts with an intriguing premise, then tells his story via a complex dual narrative structure. He juggles a large cast of characters, and maintains near-constant suspense. Although the book isn't due out until mid-October, I've already seen considerable buzz about it. Having read the book, I can understand why. It's one of those rare books that I finish, and then immediately want to turn back to the beginning to read again, to double-check how all of the puzzle pieces fit together.

Thirteen Reasons Why is narrated by Clay Jensen, high school junior. One day Clay receives in the mail a box containing seven audio cassettes (13 sides) narrated by Hannah Baker. Hannah is a girl from Clay's class who he was interested in. She recently committed suicide, and left a significant "what if" in Clay's heart. The remainder of the book follows Clay's progress in listening to the tapes as he walks around town through one very long night.

Hannah's voice is interspersed with Clay's, as he listens and reacts. Hannah's text is in italics. I did occasionally get confused between whether Hannah or Clay was speaking, but as I was reviewing from the ARC, I would imagine that this is easier to distinguish in the final printed text.

Hannah dedicates one side of each cassette tape to a person, and a reason that put her on the path to suicide. Clay knows (because he has received the tapes) that one of the installments will be about him. A large part of the suspense of the book centers on Clay's fears about what he could have done to contribute to Hannah's despair.

Clay's reactions to Hannah's revelations, of cruelties and misunderstandings and missed opportunities, intensify the emotional impact of her words. We feel for Hannah as Clay feels for Hannah, and we feel for Clay having to make his way through the tapes. There's a constant "if only" refrain to the whole thing, too. If only Justin hasn't started everything off on the wrong foot. If only the teacher hadn't let down his student. If only ...

In addition to being a suspenseful and intriguing novel, Thirteen Reasons Why is a laser-focused magnifying glass, through which we examine the microcosm of high school. More specifically, through which we examine the way that kids treat one another, often carelessly, and the sometimes overwhelmingly high emotional cost. This isn't a "message book". The fully drawn characters and their experiences come first. But underpinning their story is a series of warnings about how not to treat people. I think that Thirteen Reasons Why would make an excellent discussion book for high school students. I think that parents should consider reading it alongside their kids.

But the discussion potential is not the reason to read this book. Instead, read it because the characters are so strong that they positively breathe from the page. Read it because by the time you finish, you'll care about Hannah and Clay as though they were your friends. Read it because the narrative structure is utterly engaging (as well as technically impressive). I also confidently predict that once you start this book, you'll read it because you can't not read it. Highly recommended for ages 13 and up. The alternating male/female narration makes this book particularly accessible to both female and male readers.

Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: October 18, 2007
Source of Book: ARC from Razorbill and the author
Other Blog Reviews: youngadultARCS, The Loud Librarian, Through the Studio Door, Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Chatboard
Author Interviews: Bildungsroman, Tales from the Rushmore Kid

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.


The Girl with the Ghost Machine: Lauren DeStefano

Book: The Girl with the Ghost Machine
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Pages: 224
Age Range: 8-12

GhostMachineI enjoyed Lauren DeStefano's two previous middle grade ghost stories, The Curious Tale of the In-Between and The Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart), so I was happy to receive an early copy of her upcoming The Girl with the Ghost Machine. The girl of the title is 12-year-old Emmaline Beaumont, whose beloved mother died two years earlier. Emmaline more or less lost her father, Julien, at the same time, as Julien developed an obsession around building a machine to bring back her mother's ghost. When the machine demonstrates a degree of success, though at a painful cost, Emmaline's life becomes particularly challenging. 

I found The Girl with the Ghost Machine, like DeStefano's other books, to be a book that was difficult to put down. This was due to a combination of intriguing plot (Would the ghost machine work? Would Emmaline's father put aside his quest in favor of his living daughter?), ghostly tone, powerful musings, and strong relationships between the characters. Like this:

"Emmaline understood immediately what she had done. What she had cost her father. Without his ghost machine to give him hope, he would have to understand that Margeaux Beaumont in all her forms was gone.

The light began to face, until Emmaline was left standing in blackness. Not even the moonlight could enter through the soot on the tiny basement window. 

Her heart was pounding. But she wasn't sorry. She did what needed to be done." (Page 24, ARC)

I especially enjoyed Emmaline's friendship with twins Oliver and Gully, identical in appearance but quite different in personality. 

"Here is the way it had always been: Gully was born first, by three minutes and fifteen seconds. As they got older, Gully remained a heartbeat ahead of his brother, holding out his hand to pull him up onto steep embankments when they went hiking, forging ahead into dark rooms at night to be sure it was safe, standing on chairs to reach the top shelf so his brother wouldn't have to." (Page 70, ARC)

and:

""We'll walk you," Oliver said, rooting his finger around the bottom of the mug to scoop up the last of the cocoa. Emmaline couldn't help smiling at him. There was always something in the world to be happy about, and Oliver found these little things with ease." (Page 75)

Wouldn't YOU want to be friends with them? 

The apparently small-town French setting adds to the other-worldly feel of the book, without including any details that will puzzle young readers. There's a timeless feel to the story, too, with no cell phones or electronic devices, and the simple pleasures of going to a cafe or skating on a pond. 

A word of warning for gatekeepers. In addition to the loss of Emmaline's mother, another sad incident takes place later in the book. I saw the incident coming and saw it as necessary to the plot, and so was not personally bothered, but children who dislike sad books may want to hold off on reading The Girl with the Ghost Machine. The ending of the book is satisfying and hopeful, but there are tears along the way. The old-fashioned melodramatic feel of the book should help to insulate modern-day children from this sadness in any event.

The bottom line for me is that, at a time when I normally struggle to stay awake to read in the evenings, The Girl with the Ghost Machine grabbed my attention and held on, keeping me turning the pages. I liked Emmaline and cared what happened to her, and was also curious about the mechanics and implications of the ghost machine. And I liked Gully and Oliver very much, too. The Girl with the Ghost Machine is a book that will stay with me, and that I recommend to ghost story fans of all ages (eight and up). 

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books (@BloomsburyKids)
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Literacy Milestone: Staying Up Too Late Reading

LiteracyMilestoneAWe've all been there (those reading this blog anyway), groggy in the morning because we stayed up too late reading the night before. My daughter experienced this last week for the first time. It was my fault, really. When I read about Real Friends, by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham, I KNEW she would like it, and pre-ordered her a copy.

RealFriendsWhen it came, I left it on her bed. Because it was a busy day, she didn't see it until bedtime. She flipped through, immediately captivated by the full color graphic novel format. "Is this by the author of Lunch Lady?" she asked. I said: "No, but it's a graphic novel like Lunch Lady. It's by the author and illustrator of the Princess in Black books. Only for slightly older kids, kids maybe a little older than you. That's why I thought you would like it."

Her eyes grew very wide. Then she leapt up and flung her arms around me, saying "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" She hopped immediately into bed and started reading. The next morning I learned that she had read until 10:15 (I was already asleep, and I guess my husband decided to just go with it), and had read more than half of the book. Getting her out of bed was a bit challenging (but worth it, I think). 

It was clear for the rest of the morning that Real Friends had its hooks into her. We were already running late for school when I sent her upstairs to get dressed. I went up a few minutes later to find her half dressed, with her bookmark further along in the book. She had a visibly difficult time leaving the book behind when she went to school.

Oh, kiddo, welcome to book addiction. And to Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham, all I can say is, please keep your books coming!

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: May 5: High School #ReadAlouds and #BookLists for #SummerReading

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. There are tons of book lists this week, including various recommended summer reading lists. Other topics include #48HBC, #DiverseBooks, #LittleFreeLibrary, #ReadAloud, #STEM, audiobooks, high school, journaling, parenting, play, raising readers, reading choice, screen free week, The Brown Bookshelf, and writing.

Book Lists + Summer Reading

GoodnightGorillaWordless , old and new: A from

for : Research + Recommendations, a webinar by

Books to Welcome a New Baby from Sweet to Hilarious - new from https://t.co/wuEGP2A3Fe

Celebrating Small Publishers: An Array of Remarkable 2017 Titles From the Smallest Houses —

LolaPlantsGrowing little gardeners: to encourage young children in the garden from

recommendations for Kindergarten + First Grade from | many from series  

for kids in 2nd + 3rd grades from

A 7th Grade from

Diversity

What’s New with | https://t.co/JgUOBzw81Y 

Events + Programs

ScreenFreeWeek2017May 1-7 is + Children's Book Week | Good time to put away devices + READ w/ kids https://t.co/1vd6riTUWm 

Growing Bookworms

Learning to Share: How I Created a Culture of w/ Second Semester Seniors by https://t.co/6ml0pvDrhu

LordOfTheFliesSome of My Fondest Memories of High School were ReadAlouds – 's teacher renewed his joy in https://t.co/bIRfk5c2tA 

A Lesson for mom on the joy of sharing books from a daughter's by https://t.co/NmYCyv0eWR

How do we encourage young readers? By giving them choice + helping them find books they enjoy

Questions to Ask Your Kids about Books (w/ Cheat Sheet!) from +   https://t.co/qHlFuHyZVr

Kidlitosphere

48hbc_newIt's time for the 48 Hour Book Challenge, hosted June 2-4 by (orig. )  

Parenting + Play

Why 30 Million Words Are Critical to Your Child’s Future Success | https://t.co/9tyuGNftW3

Journaling with your Child, Teenager, or Student - ideas from Bethany Todd -  

12 Powerful Phrases that Make Talking to Kids Easier (Even When the Situation isn't Easy…) https://t.co/M1bEfV5D1A

Fun play-based experiment: Open-Ended Baking: A Sweet and Savory Tale of Child-led

STEM

Fun stuff! Exploring Her World: 25 Toys and Kits for Outdoor Discovery /  

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


The Possible: Tara Altebrando

Book: The Possible
Author: Tara Altebrando
Pages: 304
Age Range: 12 and up

ThePossibleAs was the case with Tara Altebrando's The Leaving, I picked up The Possible to check it out and then just wanted to keep reading. I read it in one sitting on a sunny Sunday afternoon (when my daughter was, luckily for me, engaged elsewhere). The voice of 17-year-old Kaylee hooked me initially, and then the book's puzzles kept my attention. Kaylee, though being raised by loving adoptive parents, lived with her birth mother, Crystal, until she was four years old. That's when Crystal went to jail for the murder of Kaylee's younger brother, Jack. Crystal has also been infamous as a teenager, when she was the center of a series of odd incidents. When a podcast producer named Liana Fatone decides to do a true crime series about Crystal, Kaylee finds herself swamped by questions. Not least of these is, if Crystal in fact had the psychic power of telekinesis, does Kaylee? 

Kaylee's quest to understand, and possibly visit, Crystal is blended with more typical teen issues, such as a crush on a boy she barely knows, and a possibly shifting relationship with a long-time male close friend. The junior prom looms, as do regional softball championships (Kaylee is a pitcher). The possibility of telekinesis interferes, one way or another, with all of these things. Did Kaylee guide the last pitch of a perfect game with her mind? Could she, just by wishing it, make her rival fall down? Tara Altebrando walks a fine line with this book, keeping such things possible, but unclear.

Here are a couple of early snippets to give you a feel for Kaylee's voice:

"Aiden's smile was crooked, but the rest of him was all right angles. It was seriously like he'd been built with flesh on LEGOs and not bones." (Page 4, ARC)

"Ordinary was driving around, newly licensed, with Aiden and Chiara in a town like Rockland County, New York, where the men had long commutes to the city that they complained about and the women mostly stayed home to raise the kids even after the kids were already raised.

Ordinary was softball and homework and test prep and violin lessons and yearbook committee and college visits and GPA freak-outs and everything-you-do-from-now-on-affects-where-you'll-go-to-college and daydreaming about Bennett Laurie and waiting for life to become something real and not something that parents and teachers and admissions boards and coaches were in charge of." (Page 7, ARC)

Kaylee is definitely not perfect, particularly in how she stereotypes other students, and unabashedly goes after a guy who is dating someone else. But she is three-dimensional and sympathetic. Her unusual situation is intriguing. Readers will keep turning pages both to understand what's going on and to  make sure that things work out ok for Kaylee. The Possible is, in short, a perfect blend of realistic and suspenseful YA, suitable for both reluctant and more avid readers.High school librarians will definitely want to give this one a look. Recommended, and one that I really enjoyed!

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books (@BloomsburyKids)
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Growing Bookworms Newsletter: May 3: #PictureBooks, #EarlyReaders, and a Child Reading in the Car

JRBPlogo-smallToday, I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on growing joyful learners, mainly bookworms, but also mathematicians and learners of all types. The newsletter is sent out every two to three weeks.

Newsletter Update:  In this issue I have five book reviews (picture book and early reader) and one post with my daughter's latest literacy milestone (screening books for my blog). I also have two posts with links that I shared recently on Twitter, and one more detailed post with quotes and responses from recent #JoyOfLearning articles

Reading Update: In the last three weeks I finished three middle grade novels and two adult novels. I read/listened to: 

  • Elizabeth Eulberg: The Great Shelby Holmes: Girl Detective. Bloomsbury USA Children's Books. Middle Grade Fiction. Completed April 16,2017. This was a very fun mystery featuring a young white girl as Holmes and a slightly older black boy as Watson, set in modern-day Harlem. I look forward to the next book, after which I expect to write about the series in more detail. 
  • AgentsOfTheGlassMichael D. Beil: Agents of the Glass: A New Recruit. Knopf Books for Young Readers. Middle Grade Fantasy. Completed April 21, 2017. This is the first of a new fantasy series involving a secret organization that fights evil, and seemingly ordinary boy who is recruited to help. 
  • J. K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Scholastic. Middle Grade Fantasy. Completed April 26, 2017. Read aloud to my daughter.
  • Brett Battles: Survivor (Rewinder, Volume 3). CreateSpace. Adult Science Fiction. Completed April 22, 2017. 
  • William Kent Krueger: Iron Lake (Cork O'Connor, No. 1). Atria Books. Adult Mystery. Completed April 25, 2017, on MP3.

UncommonersI'm currently listening to Boundary Waters by William Kent Krueger (second book in the Cork O'Connor series) and reading The Uncommoners #1: The Crooked Sixpence by Jennifer Bell on my Kindle. Reading the third Harry Potter book aloud to my daughter was a fabulous experience - I think she grew a lot as a reader from listening to and discussing the book. It's hard to wrap one's head around time-travel even as an adult - quite challenging for a seven-year-old. But we made it through. We are now reading a lot of picture books while considering what novel to read next together. It won't be the next Harry Potter - we are ready for a break, and the next one is pretty dark. I was hoping for Charlotte's Web, but she rejected that one because she saw the movie at after-school care. Sigh. 

RealFriendsMy daughter is spending a fair bit of time reading chapter books on her own. She tends to dip in and out of books and doesn't finish all that many, but she's definitely forming a habit. We had a recent family vacation to Massachusetts that involved various drives to New Hampshire and Rhode Island and such. We ended up having to borrow and buy extra books, because she finished the three that I had brought. Lesson learned there! I'm just so happy she can (and does) read in the car. You can find her 2017 reading list here. She especially enjoys the A to Z Mysteries these days. I also just ordered her Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham - I think she's going to like that one. Other recommendations welcome!

Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook